Memoria Luxareo @tootytots1
One Distinction

The noise of the market was almost unbearable; haggling, shouting, the delighted squeals of children, laughter and the cries of animals that were left to graze in the mud. Mina bundled soft fabrics into a basket and glanced up, a small smile playing on her face as she watched people bustle through the crowds. There was a chill to the day and, despite the muted light of the sun high in the sky, frost still glittered on the ground. The air was thick with a haze of smoke that did little to cover the cacophony of smells that mingled together in a sickly fragrance that made Hermione feel sick.

"You heard then, about Arden?" Mina turned towards the voice, her smile disappearing. The woman's hair was short and boyish, features pointed and pixie-like. Her plain brown dress frayed at her ankles, so different from the opulence of the fabric which she folded neatly and laid out on their tiny stall. When she turned to Mina her brown eyes shone with a secret.

"Shhh, not here, Sonyea," Mina muttered, nodding at a passing mother, dragging her small child behind her, a basket full of vegetables balanced on her hip.

"He speaks of a secret order, that only the best can join." She chuckled a little to herself, leaning her head closer and whispering in Mina's ear, "He said, he'll call them Ordo Lucis, The Order of Light."

"Sonyea, shh."

Mina knew. Arden had spoken to her of his plans, a savage glint of revenge had flickered in his eyes and the sight had made her draw back a little. She was no stranger to the spite and pettiness of Arden - he had always been a weak and teary child - but she had never seen such hate. The Battle of Black Lake - as it had now been named - had divided many magic users. The slaughter had led many witches and wizards to voice their hatred for muggles, beginning to impress the need for change among their people, while others spoke of separating themselves entirely from the muggle world. It had been done before by others; witches, wizards, magical creatures alike had hidden their world from muggles and now it seemed that many felt it was time to follow in their footsteps.

Mina didn't know what to think. No matter how many stories she heard about the Battle, she couldn't find it within herself to justify the arguments of either side. Arden, however, had taken a definitive stance, insighting hatred among those that would listen to him, speaking strongly of all the wrongdoings that had been acted upon them over the years. He had known little of this suffering, been protected as he was by his family name and title, but for some reason, people listened to him.

"I think he's crazy. He's always been the same, jumping from one idea to the next." Sonyea shook her head, tutting under her breath. There was a warmth in her words, a warmth that Hermione did not miss. It was the same warmth she felt when she berated Ron for his frequent idiotic behaviour. Mina smiled, wondering why it was that Arden did not seek Sonyea's counsel more, yes, she could be ruthless, but there was always truth and care in her words.

"I don't know what to think, these days," Mina mumbled, more to herself. Maybe, years ago, she would have been more decisive but now she felt as though everything was muddled in her mind and every thought always came back to Edward. His name had become famous among her people, the leader of the muggles that had slaughtered so many of their own during the Battle of Black lake. She knew that she should hate him, but her feelings always circled back round to the Ball and the way that he had looked at her. It had been a year, a full year since he had asked her to dance, a whole year since he'd grabbed her hand and begged for her name. She had not expected to see him again but apart of her had always hoped.

"Has, Arden spoke any more of his proposal?" Sonyea asked, pulling Mina out of her thoughts. Sickness knotted in her stomach at the the sad and suffocating idea that Arden had stuttered at her, his cheeks flushed and hope in his eyes. He had spoken of honour, of their match being a right and unspoken certainty that he had always held to. She had been able to say little, opening and closing her mouth at the formal way in which he professed his adoration; she loved Arden deeply, as though he were a brother wanting only the very best for him, but she had never seen him as anything other than that. She could never imagine Arden making her feel the way that Edward had.

"No, I don't think anything will come of it." She shook her head, hoping that there was only truth in her statement. Arden way many things, but he would never force to do anything against her will, especially not marriage.

"How much?" Mina felt a little dizzy as she sucked in a breath, holding it in an attempt to calm herself. It was his voice. Instantly she was back at the ball, breathless at the way he challenged her, infuriated her. She looked up certain the mischievous glint in his eyes was because he could hear her heart hammering desperately against her ribcage. He smiled quickly, chasing dimples into his cheeks.

"You have been incredibly difficult to track down, my lady. My purse is, significantly lighter." Mina bit back a smile, taking in the sight of him. In many ways, he looked the same as the last time she had seen him but there was something more, something within his eyes that had not been there before. She realised that he looked so much more tired than he had before, his shoulders slumped with the weight of exhaustion.

"I hope you do not expect a discount, our prices are as they are, no exceptions." she tried to keep her voice level, her face neutral, but she could feel Sonyea's gaze on her and knew that she was hiding very little.

"I would expect no less, my lady," He grinned, turning as a man came to his side, his clothes plain and ragged. Mina glanced at him curiously as he drew Edward away and began whispering furiously in his ear.

"What was that about?" Sonyea hissed next to her, grasping Mina's arm as she attempted to lean forward and listen in on the conversation that had Edward frowning.

"That's, Commander James," she mumbled, shrugging her shoulders in an attempt to seem nonchalant, rearranging the material in front of her as a way of avoiding Sonyea's gaze.

"I know who it is, Mina, I want to know why he's been looking for you, does...does he know?" Mina looked up at her friend sharply.

"Don't be silly. I have a little more about me than to announce that to everyone. Especially with the way things are." Sonyea nodded grimly, releasing her grip on her arm and squinting at Edward suspiciously.

"Then why is he? He's the man from the ball, isn't he?" Mina said nothing, wincing at Sonyea's sharp intake of breath. Sonyea always knew, when she'd returned from the ball, she had been the only one to instantly notice a difference in her.

"The man you have been pining for, all year is Commander Edward James? The Commander Edward James? Do you know what they say about him?"

"Shhh, I know, I know. I have heard it all before. Nothing will happen, trust me. I will inform him that..." Mina could not finish her sentence, the thought him disappearing off into the crowd and never seeking her out again filled her with dread. The hypocrisy of her feelings was not lost on her; he was famous for killing so many of her kind and yet he had protected Arden and yet, he made her feel...

"Well, I think it's brilliant." Mina's head whirled at her friend's words, narrowing her eyes at the small woman in confusion.

'Sonyea, I don't...what?'

"You want peace? Want to change people's minds? Who better to have on your side than a Commander, a man that is revered and trusted by his own people?"

"I don't…."

"And you said he knew about Arden and hasn't done anything. Don't you want to know why?"

She did, it burned in her heart ferociously, and such a need made her hesitant.

"I can't…"

"Yes, you can. Just...just talk to him."

"But Sonyea, your father." There was a twinge in Hermione's chest as she felt Mina's pain. Sonyea paused, glancing down at the floor to hide the glimmer of tears in her eyes. Her father had been a good man and he had died needlessly at the Battle of Black Lake.

"A pointless war killed my father, and wars don't stop while fingers are being pointed." Mina smiled warmly at her friend, jumping slightly when Edward stepped back towards the stall, the man who he had been talking to having melted into the crowd leaving not a hint that he had ever been there.

"My lady," Edward cleared his throat and Mina turned, her breath catching once again "I wondered if I could...If you would do me the honour of walking with me." Mina wished she had her mask back in place to act as a barrier between them so she did not feel so exposed to his searching and hopeful eyes.


"Yes, she will." Mina looked down at her friend who was nudging her gently towards the man.

"I don't know, the stall."

"Not to worry, we haven't been terribly busy all day. I'm fine here, you go ahead." Sonyea shooed her quickly, bustling her from behind the stand until she stood in front of him. She clenched her jaw and lifted her head haughtily, trying to preserve what little dignity she had left.

"One walk, Commander." He chuckled slightly.

"One is more than I ever expected you to grant me, my lady."

They walked through the market quietly, her hands clutched in front of her, and his joined behind his back. The stalls came to an end and soon they were walking out of the village, wandering into the forest that lay on the outskirts. Shafts of misty light were broken by the branches, and crisp browned leaves crunched beneath their feet. The air was still here and fresh. Mina breathed in deeply closing her eyes and savouring the quiet. The noise of the market sounded so far away now, so distant.

"This reminds me of when we first met, Mina." Hermione noticed the pause before he said her name as if he was savouring it. He stopped and turned to her, blue eyes meeting Mina's as she blinked at him.

The image of a chubby little boy with filthy cheeks and a mean face flashed through Mina's mind. Hardly anything remained of the child, in the man stood before her; his shoulders so much broader, his body so much leaner, skin darker and manner kinder, heavier with the world but far more relaxed in it.

"Taking liberties now we are alone, Commander?" she asked, sniffing slightly, trying to cover up just how nervous she felt at being alone with him.

"Please, call me Edward."

"I'll call you what I wish." She answered curtly, bristling slightly when he laughed, turning away to carry on walking deeper into the forest. She hesitated, wondering if it was the best idea to follow him. She knew there was nothing to fear from him but that was what frightened her the most. He was a killer, a man who had the blood of his people on her hands and yet, she trusted him more than most, wilfully following him, her heart ever hopeful that he would smile at her again. It was a dangerous feeling and one that she knew could lead to terrible things. Still, her feet seemed to move of their own accord, the hard, cold earth digging into the soles of her feet through her thin boots as she followed.

"Why haven't you told anyone about, Arden?" Mina asked. The question had been on the tip of her tongue since they'd started walking and she couldn't hold it in any longer.

"I have my reasons." He said, with a shrug, glancing over his shoulder at her, his lips curved in a bemused smile.

"Enlighten me." He was frustrating her deliberately, she knew it and yet it still worked.

"You seem awfully worried about this, Arden." He noted.

"He is my friend and if you know what he is, then you, of all people, know what danger he is in." Mina spat it into the air with more urgency than she'd intended, and mentally chastised herself as Edward grinned again in satisfaction.

"He'll receive no trouble from me." Edward clarified, seating himself on a fallen tree, casually picking at the dry and splintered bark. Mina watched it fall, huffing in frustration.

"And why is that?"

"You're sure you wish to know."

"Yes." She narrowed her eyes when he grinned at her exasperated tone.

"You have such patience, my lady."

"And you have no manners."

"You wound me."

"You're stalling." She watched the smile drop from his face quickly, wondering momentarily if she had said something wrong. He turned his sad eyes to the ground and ran his fingers through his hair.

"Yes, I am. Nothing gets past you does it?" His laughter held little humour, dimples not denting his cheeks, happiness not reaching his eyes. "What I…I have not told anyone of this and…" Mina moved to step forward, to comfort him but stopped herself quickly, reminding herself of the danger, reminding herself that it was in no way appropriate to be so forward with a man she knew so little about, a man who had made himself a sworn enemy of her people.

"My last campaign," he mumbled staring down at his hands, "the one in the highlands, it lasted for years."

"Years?" Mina asked in shock, wondering how such a thing could be possible when she had only heard of the Battle of Black Lake which had ended relatively quickly; the muggles admitting defeat and retreating as quickly as they had come.

"It took a long time to reach the Lake, where it all ended."

"And the ball?" Edward seemed amused by her question.

"A minor detour in a thoroughly planned out campaign." Mina frowned at him in confusion and he sighed, "The King requested my presence and I could not decline." Mina nodded in understanding even though she understood very little. She had never been able to fathom why one man held such power, especially a man that she felt had actually done very little to deserve it.

"The was a... Mina, you must understand, people died; man, magic user, it did not matter, they all fell." Mina glanced away from him, swallowing the lump in her throat. She had heard the stories, tales of the lake filling with so much blood that the waters turned black.

"I nearly died there…" He got to his feet, as if unsure how to proceed, "I should have died, was dying. don't know how different the world looks when you're dying. There is no victory and honour, there is just you and your body and the man bleeding next to you. Men and women speak of peace like it can be fought for, like that is what I have been doing and I should be rewarded for it, but there was no peace, no reconciliation, just death...death and blood and….' he choked over his words, rubbing his forehead fiercely, as if trying to rub away the memories.

"There was...there was a boy, I don't know how old. Couldn't have been that much younger than me. He...he healed me. At first," he took a deep breath, "at first, I thought he would kill me. I was waiting for it, was ready for it." Edward shook his head, scratching the back of his neck before he continued, "He looked so terrified but he did something, I don't know what, muttered something under his breath and then I wasn't dying. Do you know strange that is?" he'd turned to her and Mina shook her head. Magic was apart of who she was, everything about it was familiar and right. She was shocked to find that she had never thought of such things from a muggle's perspective, wondering if she had been slightly guilty of all the things she'd accused him of at The Ball.

"What happened?"

"One of my men saw him, and...and they just..." Tears shimmered in Edwards' eyes, his gaze distant as if he were back on that battlefield reliving every painful memory. "I tried, I tried to save him, even asked him what he'd muttered to me, but none of it worked. He kept saying that he wanted to go home." Edward had stopped, tears finally slipping down his cheeks and glinting in the sun.

"I have…I have killed so many men that death meant little to me, it was just something that happened whether I brought it about or something else did. But…but he just wanted to go home, and I took that from him…"

"It was not your…"

"If he had not saved me, he would still be alive. I should be dead, but instead, I am here, paraded around like some sort of animal. Dressed up with medals and titles, told how brave and heroic I am, but they know nothing." He smiled at her gently over his shoulder, "You were the first person to challenge me and it…Mina it…you don't know what it has done for me." Mina flushed, stepping away from him a little, surprised at how good his words made her feel.

"I met you, and you told me all the things I knew about myself, all the things I despised about myself and for the first time, I wanted to change. I wanted to become someone you would be proud of, would look at with honour. When I thought I was dying I saw your face and I knew...I knew that would not have made you proud." Mina shifted unable to look at him.

He wiped his cheeks, turning fully to Mina and taking two steps towards her. "The boy he...he gave me another chance, another reason to..." He shook his head and reached out to her, brushing the pad of his thumb against her cheek, "I realised there are good and bad people regardless of which side they face each other from and the reason I have not told anyone about Arden is because..." he took a deep breath, smiling shakily down at her, "there's only one distinction that matters; the man that I was and the man that I choose to be and...and I guess I have chosen." His cheeks flushed as if the words embarrassed him to say.

"And what have you chosen?" Her words shook and she berated herself for allowing the effect he had on her to be so obvious.

"You have to ask?" His voice was a deep rumble, the tip of his nose brushing against hers and he leant forward.

"MINA," They both jumped at the sound of Sonyea's voice echoing through the quiet of the forest. Mina closed her eyes in frustration, snapping them open when Edward sighed contemplating her for a moment before stepping away, offering his arm with a slight bow.

"We should return you to your friend, my lady, I have taken up far too much of your time."

"I... I'm not sure when I will be able to meet you again," Mina said it before she could stop herself, the words rushing out of her in desperation. Could their time together be over so soon? She didn't want to contemplate the thought of it ending, of never seeing one another again.

"In a week, meet me here?" His warm hand covered hers and she could feel the roughness of his palm.

"Yes," she whispered, her whole-body filling with warmth when he smiled at her.

Hermione was staring into the grey eyes of Draco, whos face, for an instant, looked entirely different; happiness glimmered in his eyes, his usually stony features were softer and his lips curled up in a smile that made her wonder why he didn't do it more, he definitely looked better for it. Before she could contemplate the direction of her thoughts, the scowl was back and he was storming across the room, yanking the door open and exiting without a single word in her direction.

Hermione let him go, mulling over the memory as she made her way back to the Gryffindor tower. More research was needed, of that she was certain. Not knowing or understanding what was happening to them was infuriating her and, in spite of her previous somewhat pitiful research attempts, she was sure that putting in more time would at least unearth something. She smiled when she felt the pull of the Sensieve, magic tingling across her skin. It was as if Mina was still with her, making sure she didn't go too far. Hermione's heart broke at the thought of how long they had been waiting there, waiting in the memories for someone to unearth them. The sadness only made her more determined that a stupid blonde, Slytherin wasn't going to stop her from finding out the truth.

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